The government and medical facilities take strain as the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths increase dramatically under level three of lockdown.
By Emma Sacco
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 7 of VARSITY News.
Covid-19 continues to spread throughout South Africa, with the number of confirmed cases and the death toll continually rising. We have been in quarantine for more than 100 days now and despite the government’s efforts to curve the spread of the virus, the newest level of lockdown has led to a sharp increase in infections in the Western Cape.
As of June, there are over 7 000 000 cases of Covid-19 worldwide according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). South Africa currently has over 65 000 cases, with the Western Cape holding the highest number of these confirmed cases at 37 000+ and counting. The Western Cape also shows the highest number of deaths in South Africa, with the overall average daily increase of Covid-19 cases currently at 543 per day.
On the 1st of June, South Africa moved to level three of lockdown, meaning that the selling and buying of alcohol is no longer prohibited, the national curfew has been lifted and going outside for exercise is allowed at all times during the day. While this has taken strain off the economy and given more freedom to South African citizens, it has also resulted in an increase in Covid-19 cases.
Since the ban on alcohol has been lifted, hospitals and medical staff have reported that there has been a large increase of alcohol related trauma cases, and that dealing with these incidents is taking up a lot of time and resources that could have been spent taking care of patients with Covid-19.
Dr Savannah Smith, a doctor working in a Cape Town trauma unit, reported that “people were coming in intoxicated, having stabbed each other…many women came in needing to be consoled because their partners were drunk and inflicted violence on them”.
Various other medical facilities and hospitals have also reported extreme numbers of alcohol related injuries since the reopening of alcohol sales and medical staff continue to take strain as they are forced to handle alcohol related incidents as well as the increasing number of coronavirus infections.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) stated that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the various provinces has increased as lockdown has become more lenient, however the Western Cape proves to be an “outlier” as its cases have increased far more drastically than any other province under level three regulations.
The National Command Council (NCC) is expected to meet this week to decide on which other economic activities will be allowed to reopen under level three of lockdown, as many businesses such as the restaurant and travel industries have requested that they be allowed to reopen. The NCC will take into consideration the measures the government has already taken to prevent the spread of the virus and will review how effective these measures have been thus far.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize recently visited the Eastern Cape, the province holding the third highest confirmed cases of Covid-19, to launch a project that will provide transport for sick patients and deliver medication to rural communities. Mkhize stated that “we have a lot of difficult days ahead”, as the virus has not reached its peak in South Africa yet. The minister also warned health services to be ready for an increase in cases and stated that we need to “remain focused” during this time.
As Covid-19 continues to spread throughout South Africa, the government encourages us to continue taking the required precautionary methods to prevent further spread of the virus such as washing your hands regularly, wearing masks and practicing social distancing.